The madness of the York Council

Street name plates neglected click to enlarge

Street name plates neglected click to enlarge

Ascot Way in Acomb demonstrates just how mixed up the York Council’s priorities have become.

20 mph sign installed within 5 metres of a sharp right bend.

20 mph sign installed within 5 metres of a sharp right bend.

School sign rusting away

School sign rusting away

Over £600,000 is being spent on installing 20 mph speed limit signs.

These include some in areas which are already protected by speed cushions (which make excessive speeds pretty much impractical).

Others have been installed at locations where it is impossible to exceed 20 mph anyway including short cul de sacs and near a sharp right hand bend (see photo).

Meanwhile other public services are being starved of investment. Street name plates are becoming illegible while other signs are simply rusting away.

Ironically the maintenance of speed cushions has been abandoned making them potential death traps for cyclists and a likely source of tyre and chassis damage for motorists.

Damaged speed humps. Already dangerous for cyclists.

Damaged speed humps. Already dangerous for cyclists.

Free City centre car parking on Saturday

Car park Richard iii

All council owned car parks are offering free parking all day and evening on Saturday 1 February 2014.

Thirteen car parks will be free to use for residents and visitors to help them enjoy York’s vast city centre offering.

The car parks that will be free to use on Saturday 1 February are: Bishopthorpe Road, Bootham Row, Castle, Castle Mills, Esplanade, Foss Bank, Haymarket, Marygate, Monkbar, Nunnery Lane, Piccadilly, St George’s Field and Union Terrace.

The initiative aims to counter the decline in shopper numbers in the City centre following the closure of Lendal Bridge.

The Council is already forecasting that it will be £200,000 under budget for car parking income this year.

York to get more electric vehicle recharging points

Eight new rapid chargers for electric vehicles are to be installed  in York, following an announcement from the Department for Transport today that an additional £244,500 funding is to be made available to support a national ‘ultra low emission vehicle’ campaign.

car recharging point

The new points can charge an electric car in around 20-minutes and will be located at Park&Ride sites and convenient locations across the city including the new Sports Village.

This means that electric vehicle drivers can travel around Yorkshire and be confident of being able to charge up their batteries quickly and at low cost. Electric vehicles can run for as little as two pence per mile and pay nothing for road tax.

The take up of electric powered vehicles in York has been slow.

More about existing electric vehicle charging points in York at

City centre repaving consultation

The York Council is delivering a leaflet to all households outlining its plans for resurfacing works in the City centre.

Exhibition Square plans

Exhibition Square plans

They are right to do so but, in pointing to improvements planned for Exhibition Square, Blake Street and Fossgate, they lamentably fail to answer the question that will be on every taxpayer’s lips.

How much will these paving schemes cost?

There is little new in the leaflet.  The Labour Council changed the Council’s forward programme in 2011 putting the modernisation of Kings Square ahead of the Fossgate pedestrianisation scheme which had been set to go ahead in 2012.

Next in line were to have been improvements to Duncombe Place, which could have provided a large and useful pedestrian precinct.

But the Councils increasing financial problems meant that progress would inevitably have slowed.

Residents might usefully have been asked when completing the “on line” survey whether they want any of these schemes to go ahead or whether the money might be better spent repairing the roads in sub-urban areas?

The danger in the Councils approach is that the improvement of the City centre may become politically toxic.

Against a background of plans for a further £1 million cut in road maintenance in sub-urban areas, residents are likely to demand of Council candidates – at the next local elections in 2015 – a commitment to improving public service standards in residential areas.

The City centre may find that its share of available resources is reduced.

‘All York’ go anywhere bus tickets reduced in price

The cost of the ‘All York Week’ ticket is being reduced from 5th January

all york pic‘All York’ is a range of tickets that enable passengers to travel on any local bus services within the York boundary, making it possible to travel on different bus companies’ services, using just one ticket at a low price.Ticket types include:

  •  All York Day – Valid for one person on any bus in the York area on the day of issue. Price: £4.50
  • All York Young Person’s Day – Valid for one 11-16 year-old on any bus in the York area on the day of issue. Valid after 9am weekdays & any time at weekends and bank holidays. Price: £2.30
  • All York Family – Valid for up to five people (including up to 2 adults) on any bus in the York area on the day of issue.
    Price: reduced to just £9.00 from 5 January 2014.
  • All York Week – Valid for one person on any bus in the York area for 7 consecutive days. Price: reduced to just £18.00 from 5 January 2014.

It was revealed last year that take up of the heavily subsidised  “go anywhere” ticket was less than 25% of the target figure.


Car parking chaos hits York City centre

As the sales get into full swing, angry motorists are demanding to know why York has stopped providing car parking space availability information?

Click to access "live" parking and travel information

Click to access “live” parking and travel information

Until 2011, anyone could access the Councils web site and see how many spaces were unoccupied at each car park.

That information has now disappeared although other Councils still provide the service.

The information isn’t even provided for York’s showcase Park and Ride sites

Today car parks like Castle were full but the Council’s travel service hasn’t bothered to use its “twitter” feed to update potential users.

Signs on the approach roads to the City centre, which indicate space availability, are also unreliable, so many motorists are driving round and round looking for spaces.

This increases pollution and congestion on City centre roads.

Sadly it is another example of new technology providing information that is less useful than what was available a decade ago.

The art of evading difficult questions

One of the checks and balances on the power of Council Cabinets/Executives has been the requirement that their members answer question form backbench members at full Council meetings.

Questions are submitted in writing at least a week before the meeting is scheduled to take place, providing plenty of time for answers to be researched.  Until 2011, both questions and written answers were circulated at the beginning of meetings allowing Councillors to ask “follow up” questions.

That protocol was abandoned in 2011 when the new Labour administration decided to circulate answers several days after the meeting had taken place. Effectively this removed any possibility of challenge through supplementary questions.

DM half past three

The management of York Council meetings has deteriorated to the point where questions re rarely reached these days anyway. 70% of the items on the Council agenda were not reached at its last meeting. Business was simply voted through without discussion.

The lack of scrutiny provides unscrupulous Cabinet members with an opportunity to avoid answering difficult questions.

At the meeting on 12th December Cllr Merrett was asked the following question. 

On the Lendal Bridge/Coppergate restrictions could the Cabinet Member confirm the following figures:

  1. The number of appeals lodged each week since the beginning of August against PCNs issued for contraventions of traffic restrictions on Coppergate and Lendal Bridge
  2. The number of appeals which have been successful each week
  3. The total revenue that the Council has received so far from PCNs following the introduction of the new restrictions on  Coppergate and Lendal Bridge
  4. The weekly changes to journey times (all modes of transport) on each arterial road and on each section of the inner ring road since the introduction of  the new traffic restrictions
  5. The numbers of accidents reported on roads in the City centre comparing the last 3 months with the equivalent period in 2012
  6. The latest air quality monitoring reports for key sites in and close to the City centre, including the Leeman Road area, and comparing these with last year?”

This expecting a short factual answer will have been disappointed.  None of the requested numbers were provided.

The reply read

Data is being ‘harvested’ for vehicle travel times across the city and far more detailed information will be published when this data becomes available in the new year.

Travel time data for radial arterial routes for Park and Ride has already been published and this clearly demonstrates that that the restriction has not led to the ‘dire effect on traffic’ nor the gridlock as anticipated by some.

Traffic flow data for these radial routes reinforces this – the flows are very similar comparing this year to last year.

Buses using the bridge are showing significant reductions in travel times – with average travel times Clarence Street to Rougier Street reducing by 4 to 5 minutes and 2 to 3 minutes in the reverse direction.

Improvements in vehicle flow have been observed at the Station Frontage, Lendal Arch Gyratory, Museum Street, St Leonards Place, Bootham, Gillygate, Clarence Street and Lord Mayors Walk.

Water End has seen an increase in traffic volume (as was predicted) although Clifton Green is generally coping well with the additional traffic, albeit with some late afternoon pressures at the junction. Signal adjustment has been undertaken and the situation continues to be closely monitored on a day to day basis via CCTV.

Skeldergate Bridge, Walmgate Bar and Foss Islands Road have seen increases in traffic (as was predicted) and some increase in the level of delay.

The traffic control centre continues to actively manage the traffic to help minimise the impact.

e)   The numbers of accidents reported on roads in the City centre comparing the last 3 months with the equivalent period in 2012

There is a lag of 3 to 4 months between an accident being reported to the police and it being available for analysis on our accident database. People have 28 days to report injury accidents and the data then requires inputting and validating by the police and the council. Data for Sep, Oct, Nov 2013 will become available in the new year.

For information the total number of accidents on roads within the city centre (inner ring road boundary) for 2012 are:

IRR – 01/09/2012 to 30/11/2012 (all times of day)

Fatal = 0

Serious = 1

Slight = 28

IRR – 01/09/2012 to 30/11/2012 (between 10:30 – 17:00 hrs)

Fatal = 0

Serious = 0

Slight = 12”   

As a result of the evasion, the requested information is likely to be the subject of a Freedom of Information request.

York traffic congestion cameras now working

click to access

click to access

8 months after they were supposed to be available for residents to access, the cameras which provide real time information on congestion levels, on key roads in York, are now working.

The inability of the Councils new camera control computer systems, to provide the kind of access that other Council have done routinely for the last 10 years, has been a source of embarrassment in the City.

Links are now also available for mobile devices.

Latest Lendal Bridge report reveals 3000 drivers a week still being fined

 No significant change to Park and Ride bus service journey times as total number fined climbs to 45,000.

The Council have now published an updated report on their web site assessing the impact of the Lendal Bridge closure.

Traffic on Lendal bridge after closure

Traffic on Lendal bridge after closure

Any hopes that the information would be objective and impartial are quickly dispelled as the report resorts to sloganising “York remains very much open for business” whatever that is supposed to mean.

The figures for Park and Ride show small increases in the number of passengers (following a trend evident for the last 6 years over which passenger growth on the services has been sustained each year).

Some services show small reductions in journey times since the Lendal Bridge restrictions were introduced. Others – like the link to the Designer Centre – show increases in journey times.

This rather confirms what is so obvious to many – that traffic congestion, on alternative routes to Lendal, is continuing to increase.

No information is provided on normal “stage carriage” bus services.

There was a 10% increase in traffic volumes on Clifton bridge when comparing November 2013 with the same month last year. Increased traffic volumes on Foss Islands Road are also evident.

The report makes no attempt to assess increases in journey times or costs for drivers. There is no information about pollution levels

The Council has also updated the tables showing the number of Penalty Charge Notices issued to drivers on Lendal Bridge and in Coppergate.

The numbers fined on Coppergate doubled to 595 during the St Nicholas Fayre week.

The number issued on Lendal Bridge is still regularly in excess of 2500 a week.

70% of the tickets issued are to visitors to the City

02-08 Sept (4   days enforcement, commenced Wednesday 1675
09-15 Sept   2015 (6 days enforcement, because of the Skyride event) 2015
16-23   Sept  (5 days enforcement, cameras   updating) 1766
23 – 29   September 2,762 PCNs issued (6 days enforcement) 2762
30 Sep – 6   October 1,885 PCNs issued (5 days enforcement) 1885
7 – 13   October 2,487 PCNs issued (5   days enforcement)  2487
14 – 20   October 3,640 PCNs issued  3640
21 – 27   October 3,879 PCNs issued  3879
28 Oct – 3   November 4,098PCNs issued  4098
4 – 10   November 1,921 PCNs   issued  1921
11 – 17   November 3,172 PCNs issued 3172
18 – 24   November 2,801 PCNs issued 2801
25 Nov – 2   December 2,553 PCNs issued 2553
15-18   August  (4 days enforcement, commenced   Wednesday) 1085
19-25 August 1741
26-01 Sept 880
02-08 Septd 850
09-15   Sept  (6 days enforcement, because of   the Skyride event) 841
16-22   Sept  (5 days enforcement, cameras   updating and gas works commenced) 324
23 – 29   September 405 PCNs issued (6 days enforcement) 405
30 Sep – 6   October 345 PCNs issued (5 days enforcement) 345
7 – 13   October 593 PCNs issued (5 days enforcement) 593
14 – 20   October 869 PCNs issued 869
21 – 27   October 755 PCNs issued (6   days enforcement)  755
28 Oct – 3   November 416PCNs issued  416
4 Nov – 10   November 146 PCNs issued # 146
11 – 17   November 240 PCNs issued # 240
18 – 24   November 251 PCNs issued # 251
25 Nov – 2   December 595 PCNs issued 595

– Of all PCNs reviewed, up to Monday 8 December 2013, there was a 30:70 split on YO and non-YO postcodes.

# – only one camera operational.

Dial and Ride seeks more passengers from Acomb

dial and ride logo

York’s Dial & Ride service has helped thousands of elderly and disabled residents travel from their door to their destination for over 20-years

Established in the late 1980s, the flexible bus service helps residents who cannot use conventional bus services, or who require extra assistance at either end of their journey, with door-to-door transport to the city centre or major supermarkets.

Dial & Ride is operated by York Wheels, a voluntary sector service.. York Wheels has a team of 32 volunteers who work for the organisation from one to five days a week

Passengers can book in advance by telephoning 01904 551441 during office opening times (weekdays from 9am until 12 noon), but a message can be left outside of these times.

To book the Dial & Ride service, residents follow these four simple steps: